Services provided: Creative concepting, pitch documentation/presentation, visual design (flash, web), site architecture, UX/UI/IX design, copywriting,  game design, video direction, motion graphics

Tools used: Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut, After Effects, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash

In the late 90’s I started a web design company with a developer friend, Paul Hastings. Our first big project was the website for “Being John Malkovich”, Spike Jonze’s debut film. I had known Spike for a long time and he wanted us to work on his project for addtional creative fire (above and beyond the typical dry promotional film sites at the time.) The results went well, and when he went on to produce “Jackass”, we were hired again to spearhead the internet marketing effort. This led to an ongoing relationship with Paramount Pictures, and over the next few years we did a handful of projects with them.

The web and its technologies were much less understood at the time, and our company (Sakebomb) provided not only the necessary technical and artistic abilities, but also the ability to act as liason between the talent (actors, producers, and directors) and the studio. By crafting well-validated pitches and developing relationships with the marketing heads at Paramount, we earned their trust and business and were encouraged to do really progressive and creative work.

Film sites at the time were done almost entirely in Flash, and for “Jackass”, “Mean Girls”, and “Team America”, we built intricate Flash sites with full screen animation and sound. Flash required a certain set of UX and UI principles, and as some of the most visited websites at the time, Sakebomb was certainly part of developing the common language and visual design patterns that have become standard across the web. We integrated casual games and banners into a comprehensive web marketing push, and developed different manner of scrolling, parallax movement, animation, and other user interfaces.

Creatively, the sites ran the gamut, requiring vastly different graphic and editorial styles, and we were always eager to inspire and delight our audience. “Jackass” required us to create borderline-obscene casual games; for “Mean Girls” we pitched the concept of a teen girl magazine, and as lead creative I spent several months writing horoscopes and designing pink titles and pages. For “Team America”, we were asked by the directors to create something indistinguishable from a Brukheimer-esque action film, with the single exception being the ridiculous marionettes that were the lead characters in the film.

In addition to graphics and games, we would often go on set and shoot behind the scenes footage, conduct interviews, and so on. I personally witnessed some truly mind-blowing stunts and shenanigans on the “Jackass” set, to say the least. There was an abundance of talent and hard work on all of these films, and it was always inspiring to see the ways that other artists worked, and to find ways to collaborate and create additional content.

Both “Jackass” and “Mean Girls” released at the Number One spot. (“Team America” did not do well at the box office, but has earned its place among the cult films of our era). All told, the three films earned over $200M at the box office, and our relationship with Paramount stayed strong over the next few years working on different projects with the studio, some of the more ambitious of which never saw public release.

Nevertheless, Paramount and Sakebomb were a strong partnership, and we made many good friends and significant creative output.